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Indiana human trafficking victims escape

CLEARWATER, Fla. – A Florida man has been charged with human trafficking, false imprisonment and sexual battery after police say he took advantage of five people from Indiana who were either underage or have some type of mental disability.

Clearwater police spokesman Rob Shaw said 37-year-old Jeffrey Keowin met the victims in Peru, Ind., and allowed them to stay at his home in Florida.

Police say Keowin controlled their finances, didn’t allow them access to money and wouldn’t let them leave. They had limited access to food and weren’t allowed to use the phone.

A police statement said Keowin hit the victims, forced one into prostitution and sexually battered two others.

Keowin was being held without bail in Pinellas County. It’s unclear whether he has retained an attorney.

News reports said the victims escaped and sought help.